Remarkable clocks and watches: timepieces in Geneva

Geneva was the birthplace of the Swiss watchmaking industry, and although it is no longer a prime manufacturing centre, it is still closely associated with watches and clocks.

Not all Geneva's timepieces are to be found in the expensive shops of the rue du Rhône. Anyone can enjoy the floral clock in the Jardin Anglais (or English Garden) on the Quai de Général Guisan, where it was planted in 1955. The elaborate clock, with its eight circles whose colours vary with the seasons, has the longest second hand in the world, more than 2.5 meters long.

Geneva donated a floral clock to St Petersburg on the occasion of the Russian city’s 300th anniversary in 2003.

Another record-breaking clock is to be found in the Cornavin hotel, on the Bd James-Fazy. At 30.02m it is the tallest pendulum clock in the world. It reaches from the ground floor right up to the ninth.

The Passage Malbuisson contains another unusual clock. Every hour, on the hour, its 16 bells chime a melody, while figures portraying the Escalade – Geneva’s defeat of night-time attackers in 1602 – parade across the front of the clock. The clock was inaugurated in 1962. 

Since 1997, the Quai Wilson on the right bank has boasted its own unique gem: a giant solar and laser clock. A stone’s throw away from the Perle du Lac park, this clock is a harmonious blend of stainless steel and glass, of tradition and innovation. On its face, measuring 6.4m (21 feet) in diameter, 198 stars appear as soon as sun shines down on the optical glass fibres, recreating a map of the night sky right in the middle of the day.